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James Cotton - Giant

Alligator Records

12 tracks

James Cotton is back with Alligator Records! His latest CD is Giant, an apt title for a bluesman of his stature. Most reviews read that “so and so” played with the giants of the industry. With James Cotton, this is also true, but more importantly; James Cotton is a giant of the industry. On Giant, Cotton is joined with Slam Allen on vocals and guitar and Tom Holland also on vocals and guitar. Two members of the Neal family provide the rhythm section; Noel Neal on bass and his nephew Kenny Neal, Jr. on drums. There is also a guest stint by Ronnie James Weber on the track, “Sad, Sad Day.”

It’s refreshing to listen to blues done right and with excellent production values. Not only does Cotton blow the harp but the sound soars in the mix. The harp is front and center as it should be. The guitars are panned left and right so that listening to the CD feels as if one is hearing the music in a concert hall without the distracting crowd noises. The rhythm section is tight (of course). Not only are they family but they have played together as band mates with Kenny Neal. Bottom line, add Giant to your James Cotton collection.

In the 1990s, Cotton battled throat cancer and now leaves the singing to his band mates. But, he can still blow and blow he does. He has earned the nickname “Mr. Superharp”. In June 2011 he was feted by fellow luminaries and fans at the Lincoln Center in New York City. As long as he can perform, he will and we will benefit from this giant’s presence.

Reviewer Sheralyn Graise graduated from the University of Akron a while back. A former Social Services professional, she is now pursuing other interests such as music history, writing, and photography. She has been a member of the Blues Foundation since 2001.

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